Fianna Fáil Health spokesperson Billy Kelleher says the Government must explain why delays in tens of thousands of diagnostic cases are not being disclosed in published reports.  It’s emerged that some patients are waiting more than two years for potentially lifesaving tests, but these cases are not being recorded in official figures.

Deputy Kelleher commented, “The scale of these delays is extremely alarming, but what is worse is the fact that the extent of the problem is being concealed from the public.  Thousands of people are being forced to wait unacceptable amounts of time for diagnostic tests, and these excessive delays have the potential to jeopardise patient prognosis and recovery.

“Figures that I received from the HSE outlining waiting times for MRI scans make for frightening reading.  27,000 people are currently on a list for a scan, and there are major backlogs at St. Vincent’s University Hospital and the Mater in Dublin, with patients waiting more than a year for the test.  The situation has reached critical levels at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Limerick where there are 2,000 waiting more than 2 years.

“I am concerned that the health service is becoming ever more secretive and less transparent.  It is important that the appropriate information on waiting lists for diagnostic procedures are not just collated but released publicly in a timely manner.

“The Government needs to look seriously at how it has changed practices from only a few years ago.  Producing less information publicly or restricting the methods by which information is released is not appropriate for a modern, accountable health service.  The release of these waiting times should become routine and regular.  If the health service is to continue to address waiting lists and build public confidence it cannot do so by keeping this information under lock and key for as long as it thinks it can get away with”.